Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Captain Nemo and Me

"The Earth does not want new continents, but new man..."
-Captain Nemo (20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, Chapter 18).

For me, life really got good when I first experienced 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.

Or at least -- I'm not ashamed to admit it -- when I first viewed the classic 1954 Disney cinematic adaptation of the great Jules Verne book.

When did this happen, exactly? Well...er...I don't remember exact dates, alas, but I believe I first encountered 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea sometime in the early 1970s, when I couldn't have been more than three or four years old. I can't remember if I saw the film on television or at a theater revival. But I was positively entranced.

It was that movie, in fact, which absolutely ignited my love of films (and other visual media...) that feature:

a.) exploration (of either the ocean realm or outer space...).

b.) monsters and horror (in Sea represented by a hungry giant squid...).

c.) amazing, fantasy/high-tech conveyances (in this case, the advanced and gorgeous submarine, Nautilus).

Gazing back, I can see clearly now how experiencing 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea at a very young age prepared me for what was to come. From Land of the Lost, Star Trek, Space:1999, The Land That Time Forgot, At The Earth's Core, Planet of the Apes, King Kong, and Godzilla, to Alien, Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers, The Black Hole and other treasures of my childhood (and indeed, my adulthood). I also have very fond memories of being a boy -- perhaps of six years?-- and listening to my father read chapters of Verne's book before lights out and bedtime.

Today, I stand over the dangerous precipice of age 40. If anything has pushed me closer to the chasm called "old age," it's caring on a daily basis for a rambunctious, energetic two-year old son who is a delight in every way...but who rarely sleeps through the night. And who likes to wake up at 4:30 am.

Last week, he was up and ready to start his day one morning at 2:52 am.

I love my boy Joel more than life itself. He has an amazing way of making me feel both old and young simultaneously. Old...because I need the sleep. Young...because the entire world is a wonder, an adventure, a brand new - and inviting - experience for him. I look into his excited eyes as he makes the Batplane "shoot flames out the back," or as he shows me the contrails created by his Klingon Bird of Prey (which he asks for by name...). I see how he picks up absolutely everything from the world around him (including the theme song for Transformers...), and I can't help but reflect a bit on my own happy youth so many yahrens ago.

Anyway, this post is just my long-winded, overly-sentimental way of saying that in 2009 -- the year I turn 40 -- I'm going to focus some energy here on the productions of my youth that I loved so much. Productions that, perhaps, will hold value for Joel too in the years and decades ahead.

A good place to start that journey is....Starship Invasions.


It's 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. In particular I wish to study one of my longtime heroes, the inscrutable, tragic Captain Nemo. That old, mysterious submarine Captain has lived quite the life on film and television, so I'll be blogging here about his many adventures; from the original Verne book, to the 1954 Disney movie, to Mysterious Island (1961), to Captain Nemo and The Underwater City (1969) to the very Star Wars-inspired miniseries, Return of Captain Nemo (1978).

Don' t worry: I won't stop blogging my regular stuff (movie/tv reviews, Dollhouse, cult shows, etc.), but much as I blogged a series on director William Friedkin last year, I want to dive under the surface of Captain Nemo's intriguing world this year and see what we can excavate.

The Nautilus is boarding, so hurry...(just keep your hands off the hull when it's electrified...). First up: the book. If you've got a copy, dust it off and start reading...


  1. One of my favorite books of all time. I'm looking forward to this.

    Lead on!

  2. John, I'm the same age you are -- turning 40 in September -- and one of the great pleasures of your blog for me has been the verification of lots of things I think I remember from childhood but sometimes wonder if I imagined... case in point, Return of Captain Nemo. I haven't thought about that in years! Looking forward to your recap and thoughts about it, as well as any info you might be able to provide on where I can find the darned thing. I don't recall ever hearing that it's on DVD...